top of page

Depression After Drinking: Fact or Myth?

Have you ever noticed a dip in your mood after a bout of drinking? Read on to discover whether depression after drinking is a fact or myth.
Keyword(s): depression after drinking

Studies show that alcohol abuse doubles the risk of major depression. The reason there is so much misinformation and distrust around the subject takes some understanding.

First, getting to the bottom of the link between alcohol use disorders and major depression presents a unique problem in comorbidity. Comorbidity covers a range of issues that work together, like a feedback loop, to exaggerate each effect or conceal a problem.

We'll cover the specifics behind the science and give you the best tools to understand what you or another may be going through in regards to an alcohol use/depression loop.

Though tricky to fully understand, there are answers and professionals trained to assist in these tough cases. If you experience depression after drinking, there may be more at stake than a bad morning after.

Depression After Drinking

Though people may choose to drink for a variety of reason, and many people experience no lasting issues with a drink at the end of a day, for others issues magnify over time.

Alcohol serves as a depressant and has a sedative effect. For people that have issues coming down and relaxing from a hard day, or people with anxiety and high stress lives, drinking (in moderation) can be an excellent way to self-medicate.

For others, drinking becomes a cycle. Alcohol abuse begins with a person trying to correct a feeling and then needing the alcohol to maintain any kind of feeling.

Depression after drinking becomes routine, which is why it is hard to tell which caused which. While some people who begin drinking would not consider themselves to have an issue before, they will find themselves deeper in a hole over time.

This type of drinking and depression masks each other so well few people can spot which one caused the other. This enters into the comorbidity issue.

Depression Issues

Depression, though it can be treated as a medical issue stemming from imbalances in brain chemistry, is often also related to environmental factors.

Depression has a large economic impact costing losses in work hours, life-satisfaction, and suicide.

A person's life can come apart easily when they are depressed as the many daily tasks needed to keep a life going start to crumble. Often, this begins to have a ripple effect on those in close proximity such as friends and family.

Once depressive behaviors start to affect others, it is common for a person to retreat further, which exacerbates the issues.

Alcohol Use Disorders

Heavy alcohol use follows many of the same steps. A person experiences losses in productivity and daily functions. They become increasingly worse until ripples affect others, then they retreat.

One of the key differences is alcohol use disorders can also lead to wide-reaching health deterioration. The liver and brain face the largest issues after heavy alcohol abuse.

It is clear to see why these two issues may be hard to spot independently or how easily they can feed into each other.

The Comorbidity Issue

Comorbidity research challenges doctors in both the medical and mental health fields. Intertwined conditions, much like a ball of Christmas lights, aren't always easy to separate or to figure out which end attaches where.

Basically, comorbid illnesses crop up at either roughly the same time or right after each other. The first challenge comes from figuring out if they are related causally, or simply temporarily. Essentially, did one cause the other or was it just a coincidence of timing.

A student may become depressed and start doing poorly with studying. It could be the depression causes the poor studying, it could be that poor studying leads the student to be sad. The third possibility is that neither caused the other, but that an outside factor caused both.

When it comes to depression after drinking, one of the key factors remains why alcohol abuse begins. Understanding the onset of alcohol use disorders helps to narrow down these issues.

Comorbidity Treatment Problems

The next issue with a comorbid issue such as depression after drinking comes from the treatment protocols. Treatment centers and professionals usually work with specific regiments and have the training to deal with a narrow subset of issues.

This means a person suffering from both major depression and alcohol use disorders will have to pick which of the two to treat at any given time. Even if the treatment is effective, the fact that only half the problem was treated will likely cause further issues.

When the issues are intertwined enough, the treatment will likely not be effective at all. A person bouncing between treatment plans and professionals will quickly become disillusioned with the process and likely stop any and all treatments.

A feeling of failure from not being helped can also double down on either major depression or alcohol abuse disorders.


Fortunately, as the issue of depression after drinking has become more widely known and better understood, better treatments are being offered.

New treatments include a cross-platform mixture of antidepressant drugs and psychological therapies. Therapies can include psychosocial, motivational, and cognitive approaches. Treatment centers now work to treat both issues simultaneously and are staffed to serve this particular issue.

Antidepressant medications offer a safer alternative for treatment because of their non-addictive nature. These can be helpful when dealing with substance abuse disorders because people already abusing one substance are likely to try and abuse another.

Combined treatment approaches show significant improvement over single issue treatments. While this is positive, the results indicate that integrated treatments need to be rolled out carefully and often tailored to the patient. This isn't a problem of concept, but an issue for many that want a one-stop solution.

Working closely with treatment centers to find the right fit helps. The evidence suggests proceeding slowly and working with a dually-diagnosed treatment will give the best hope.

Reach Out

If you, or someone you know struggles with depression after drinking, reach out for more information and professional services.

Depression counseling services and Addiction Counseling services offer a solid, and easier doorway to treatment. Substance abuse treatment often seems like an attack, but depression counseling may offer a better way to help understand the scope of issues.

Contact us for more information about counseling and patient treatment services in your area.


bottom of page